Women Who Shoot

Over the next couple of months we’ll be introducing you to a bunch of wonderful Women Who Shoot.

Week 1 – Liz Rymill

Liz a 34-year-old farmer, journalist and mum in the south east of South Australia. Liz dabbled in shooting as a youngster but got into sporting clays and skeet shooting after trying out her husband’s shotgun at 27. She has competed on a state and national level since she began shooting competitively; she was the first woman in South Australia to reach AA-grade in skeet; and also made the Australian Ladies Postal team which recognises the top five women in Australia for skeet shooting. Liz thinks shooting is a wonderful sport for anyone at any age: she loves the mental challenge of the sport and would love to see more women get involved. “If you can overcome any perceived fears that you might have, it’s so worth it. And the people that you meet are just incredibly fun and supportive; there’s a real community and family feel around it.”

Week 2 – Debbie Cain

Debbie is a 50-year-old horse-riding enthusiast who transitioned her love of riding to shooting three years ago. Coming from a rural background, Debbie was always comfortable with firearms but never shot and it wasn’t until she was thoroughly encouraged to give the sport a go that she did, and loved it. Debbie’s first rifle was named Ella after one of the saddles she sold to pay for the firearm. Debbie shoots long-range target in Open F class and has recently tried Fly Shoot. The SSAA member loves that the sport is inclusive for people of all walks of life. “I have met so many amazing people in this sport and love that woman, men and youth can all compete together. So in short, I tried it, got hooked and will stay in this sport until I am physically able.”

Week 3 – Nadine Dauner

Nadine is a 29-year-old dump truck driver in the mines who enjoys motorbike riding, cooking, gardening, drawing and of course, shooting. Nadine gets her passion for shooting from her father—a German-trained gunsmith who has always been involved in shooting and firearms. She shoots clay targets at her local club in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and also goes hunting with her partner for pest eradication. Nadine says she loves that shooting is a different and unusual sport as well as an opportunity to better herself and to learn from others who have been shooting for a long time. “I have always been supported by everyone I know. The people at my clubs and my friends and family have always been super supportive of my passion for shooting.”

Week 4 – Mary Murphy

This 74-year-old has been shooting since she was 13 years old and has been a SSAA member since 1977. Mary’s first experience shooting was with a .22 rifle and has since participated in rabbit hunting and shooting at the Springvale and Eagle Park Ranges. Now, Mary visits family in Wodonga in Victoria and shoots at the range in addition to some target practice on the family property. As well as shooting, Mary has always loved fishing for marlin and yellowfin tuna off the coastal town of Bermagui in New South Wales and also gets great pleasure out of shooting with her 13-year-old granddaughter Bridie, who has her junior license. Mary said the shooting community has certainly developed during her time and now is very welcoming. “Things have improved greatly since I started… SSAA has done a great job in recent years encouraging women to participate in the sport.” When asked what she likes most about shooting, Mary said she loves to challenge herself. “Last year I shot a three-round group of 1/4 inch at 100m on two occasions. Trying to do it for a third time is my present challenge. It’s [also] a very family friendly activity with my husband, son and grandchildren.”

Week 5 – Janette Mitchell

The 66-year-old started shooting in 1974 when her husband (then boyfriend) took her out to the Silverdale Range in New South Wales and Jan earnt her “silver” benchrest proficiency medal. The SSAA member joined the association that day and has never looked back. The Target Rifle competitor has represented Australia six times—four with SSAA. Most recently Jan was the only female member of the SSAA Australian team at the World Rimfire Benchrest Championships 2018 and the Pacific Regional Championships 2018 in New Zealand. Jan has won eight International Rimfire Benchrest medals and set five Australian SSAA Rimfire Benchrest Records; won 26 SSAA National Rimfire Benchrest medals, 39 SSAA Rimfire Benchrest State medals along with many more. The strong competitor shoots regularly with her husband and says there is work to do to make shooting an encouraging environment for women. When asked what she likes about the sport, Jan said she loves the intense focus and the buzz when everything comes together. “I’ve met good people and made life-long friendships; matches are a great chance to catch up. I competed from my teens through to still being able to qualify for the Australian team in my sixties – not many sports can offer a lifetime of opportunities!”

Week 6 – Louise Tingate

Louise grew up in Rutherglen, Victoria, with an older brother who introduced her to hunting. But Louise really began shooting when her son Matt started teaching her the basics and explained the mental skill required for the sport. The 65-year-old has competed in many disciplines including DTL, Skeet and Olympic ISSF Trap. While she’s been told to stick to one discipline and hone that skill, she loves to try new things. Louise was a nurse and a nanny for many years but has always had a spirit for adventure and the outdoors. She lives for motorcycle riding, cycling, camping, travel and of course shooting; as well as arts and crafts like watercolour painting and mosaics. Louise loves that shooting is a family sport and that she’s been able to meet people from all walks of life. “I also like the travel aspect… and the added bonus of shooting a comp as we have in Norfolk Island, Tasmania, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Sydney and many others.” Louise thinks shooting is one of the few sports that encourages women young or old to get involved. “As a woman shooter I have always felt encouraged by others that I’m giving it a go [and] have always been made to feel welcome at the many country shoots I’ve attended.”

Week 7 – Micala Ilgin

This SSAA member is passionate about shooting, having picked up the sport with her husband after their neighbours introduced them to recreational shooting. Micala works as a security guard while studying to become a nurse and eventually wants to work in women’s health. She also has three dogs that she loves. Micala shoots Category A and B long arms at the St Marys indoor range in New South Wales. When asked what her first experience of shooting was like, the 23-year-old said she was overwhelmed. “I didn’t know how to get into the sport and I found it was male dominated,” she said. But after finding some different SSAA programs for women and social media groups, Micala is now a shooting enthusiast. “Not only is it the thrill of shooting, loading the magazine into the firearm, [and] feeling the kick of recoil. But realistically it’s putting on my ear muffs and proving that as a female I can enjoy this sport as well as the men and kicking their butt in my target scores.”

Week 8 – Emily Mouat-Markham

Emily is a 30-year-old bank manager who loves clay target shooting and everything outdoors. The SSAA member lives on a 50-acre property in Burra in the ACT with her fiancé, who introduced her to shooting. Emily has always loved spending time in the bush, so every weekend she is off hunting, camping, fishing and exploring. Besides hunting, Emily shoots Sporting Clays at the Majura Park Gun Club in the ACT. Emily says the team at her club is awesome with everyone being welcoming and encouraging. “You meet heaps of different people from all sorts of backgrounds. Also the chance to travel and meet people from all different areas of Australia.” Emily also loves the skill required in the sport. “Precision, concentration, patience. It tests you!”. When asked if she thinks the shooting community is encouraging for women, Emily says while the sport is historically male dominated more women are getting involved. “It is always exciting to see another woman at the club or comps. Everyone is very supportive of each other.”

Week 9 – Naomi Jackson

Naomi is a 39-year-old SSAA member and a self-confessed “late-onset” shooter. Growing up in suburban Sydney in a very anti-shooting household, Naomi didn’t begin shooting until about three years ago at a Try Shooting day at the Silverdale Rifle Range with her husband, Rod. Now, she’s a regular shooter at that range and at the St Marys Indoor Shooting Centre. Naomi is involved in Benchrest (both rimfire and centrefire), Sporting Clays and hunting with Rod and their fur-kid, Indie—although she says neither of them are very good at hunting so it’s more like a long walk. The business manager says getting involved in shooting has been “life-changing” for her and she now enjoys nothing more than heading out into the state forest for the weekend to camp and hunt, or spending hours at the range. “I find it quite meditative. For that time, you’re conscious of your body position, your breathing and are entirely focussed; there’s no room in your brain for anything other than that target. It’s better than yoga,” she says. Naomi says the sport is still relatively male-dominated, but it’s definitely improving. “Initially, I was hesitant to head to the range on my own, I just felt out of place, but I’ve never had anything but encouragement from the RO’s. I’ve attended most of the SSAA Ladies Shooting Program events over the last couple of years, volunteering at the most recent event a few months back helping some ladies try shooting for the first time – I feel like I’ve come full circle!”

Week 10 – Rebecca Byfield

Rebecca is a Tasmanian local and hunting enthusiast. At 47, Rebecca only got involved in shooting two years ago. “I decided that if I was going to eat the meat from hunting, I should probably take more responsibility for being part of the process myself,” she says. The SSAA member is involved in rifle shooting and hunting, generally on private land. And as a former journalist, Rebecca is now heavily involved in advocating for the shooting community, and the “honesty” that is involved in hunting and sourcing her own food. “The more I researched the intricacies of wildlife conservation, the more I realised how vital hunting is to the survival of wildlife. I think that the general public has no idea about this. They have literally been lied to by animal rights activists, who themselves don’t understand the balance that nature requires.” When asked if she thinks the shooting community is encouraging for women, Rebecca says the vast majority of hunters are incredibly supportive, but there is always room for improvement.

Week 11 – Isobella McGrath

This SSAA member is a veterinary nurse passionate about conservation; ethical hunting, and humane and sustainable food sourcing. Isobella lives on a sheep station in the Western Riverina, New South Wales—she also runs her own vet nursing business. She was exposed to shooting at a young age on the family farm and got back into the sport after she finished school. The 26-year-old started out rifle shooting and within the past 12 months has taken up clay target shooting to expand her skills. Isobella says despite being the “newbie” at the club, the environment is incredibly nurturing. “The more experienced shooters really want to coach me and pass on their wisdom. I love that all ‘players’ are equal and despite it being a ‘singles’ sport you still get that team feeling and bonding.” Isobella says there’s still some room for improvement in encouraging women to participate in the shooting sports, but generally her experience has been incredibly positive. “What I have encountered at the clubs has been welcoming, open, fair and generally very comfortable; making me feel like the people around me truly want us to be there and to see us all do the best we can.”

Week 12 – Erica Weatherley

Erica grew up in a hunting family who hunted in Boggabilla and Goondiwindi along the Queensland and New South Wales border and loved the experience. When she met her partner Ray, they realised it was something they had in common and her passion for the sport was renewed. “We had some success with a few rabbits, but when we spotted deer we both knew this would become our passion,” Erica said. The SSAA member said hunting deer was a whole new experience to learn and she and Ray read a lot of Australian Shooter articles and watched videos to help them out. Erica now hunts, butchers and cooks with her family. “[We] cook together making some awesome food. Smoked and reverse seared tenderloins, slow cooked ribs and curries, venison spaghetti bolognaise, maple venison burgers, venison nachos and enchiladas, venison sausage rolls, and jerky. We spend a lot of time educating them that food doesn’t just come from a freezer or supermarket and isn’t always packed in a pretty little container to just open and heat. Reminding them that there are more ethical and sustainable ways of sourcing your food, and though hunting this way we also contribute to conservation. We both hope to pass this down to our children as a way of life as our parents had done for us.”

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